Highway transport of sulphuric acid from the Trail smelter resumed last week with the arrival of nine new carrier trucks.
“On Oct. 31, we started a very slow ramp up of shipping,” confirmed Carrie Gaines from IRM (International Raw Materials). “Our ramp-up plan is to go as slowly as all parties feel 100 per cent confident that shipping is occurring safely.”
Trucking acid out of Teck Trail was suspended in mid-September after a small leak was reported during offloading to a rail car at the Waneta re-load station. That incident followed two major spills earlier this year when, collectively, over 300 litres of sulphuric acid was spilled on the highway through Trail.
IRM historically loaded 10 to 20 trucks per day from the production site before transport was put on hold.
For now, the volume of acid being shipped is limited and subject to frequent scrutiny.
“We are no longer using historical numbers to set the transportation goal for this operation,” Gaines said. “We will increase volumes to a level that all parties feel can operate safely.”
Most of the product that is transported by truck, is unloaded at Waneta and transported by rail on the CP. The rest is transported by truck directly to customers in Canada and the U.S.
Sulphuric acid is a byproduct of operations at the Teck Trail plant. The company sells the acid to IRM who then uses it for various applications in industries such as pulp mills, mining, water treatment and fertilizer production.
“IRM is the owner of the product (sulphuric acid) and is responsible for safe transport once it leaves Trail Operations,” Teck spokesperson Catherine Adair told the Trail Times after the second spill in May.
Hundreds of vehicles have been written-off due to sulphuric acid contamination stemming from the April 10 and/or May 23 spills.
In early October, ICBC started a lawsuit against a number of parties identified as “negligent” in the company’s Notice of Civil Claim. IRM, Teck and Westcan Bulk Transport are listed as Corporate Defendants.
The release read, “On behalf of our customers (ICBC is) seeking financial relief for the loss of, or damage to, vehicles caused by the sulfuric acid spills in Trail earlier this year, as well as related costs and expenses.”